RRDC/FIA Young Drivers Symposium Attracts Large and Appreciative Audience

A capacity crowd of 150 young drivers, family members, managers, coaches and assorted guests participated in the Road Racing Drivers Club/FIA Young Drivers Symposium on Dec. 11, at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show in Orlando, Fla.

Hosted by RRDC President, Indianapolis 500 winner and BMW-Rahal Letterman Team co-owner Bobby Rahal, the third in a series of free “Safe is Fast" workshops – with S.A.F.E. an acronym for Skilled, Assured, Fit, Empowered – was supported by a grant from the FIA Motor Sport Safety Development Fund.

The three-hour program featured a total of six industry experts who relayed a wealth of information and know-how covering such topics as mental preparation (Jacques Dallaire, Ph.D, founder and president of Prime Performance), physical fitness (Jim Leo, C.S.C.S., president of Pit Fit Training), safety (Stephen Olvey, M.D., and Terry Trammell, M.D., founding members of the International Council of Motorsports Sciences and founding fellows of the FIA Institute for Motorsport Safety), integrated driving and coaching (Michael Zimicki, president of Sliderule Motorsport) and sponsorship and branding (Jim Jordan, Manager for Alternative Marketing at Mazda North American Operations).

The symposium attracted drivers from a wide variety of race series and activities ranging from karting and quarter-midgets through all branches of open-wheel, sports car and stock car racing. Among them, the attendees represented all the major race sanctioning bodies in North America, including American Le Mans Series, Grand-Am, IndyCar, NASA, SCCA, USAC, NASCAR, ARCA and a plethora of karting entities.

“We couldn’t have been more pleased with the response," said Rahal. “We saw drivers from just about every discipline you could imagine, and it was exciting to see how enthralled they were with the presentations."

Attendees were equally effusive in their praise for the symposium: “I found it very educational," said Collete Davis, 16, a student of mechanical engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., who hopes to race in the 2011 U.S.F2000 National Championship. “I learned in just a few hours what people would usually take years to learn."

“This was the second time I had attended the symposium at PRI," said Trent Hindman, 15, from Wayside, N.J., who last week won a full scholarship to contest the 2011 BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Championship Presented by Mazda. “This year, to be honest, I was a lot more prepared to take in all this information. Dr. Dallaire’s method of thinking really helped me out a lot, so I’m going to try to take all of that and apply it and hopefully go faster on track."

It wasn’t just the youngsters who picked up valuable information to help them maximize their potential. “I thought it was excellent," said former IndyCar driver turned television analyst Scott Goodyear, who was joined by his 14-year-old son Michael, a burgeoning kart racer. “There was a lot crammed into a short period of time, but I think that if you can just even take away 10 or 20 percent of what you heard, that’s going to make you better both on and off the track. For me personally, it was an opportunity for my son to hear all these things from a different source – because I’m talking about it all the time – so he can then understand it and realize the importance of it all."

“I really enjoyed the mental and the physical fitness side of it because that’s one thing that isn’t always foremost in your mind when you go to the race track," added former Atlantic competitor John Thompson, from Perkaise, Pa., who accompanied his 16-year-old son, Colin, a competitor in this year’s VW Jetta TDI Cup Series. “The fact that it’s a seven-day, 24-hour-a-day activity really makes sense. You really can’t just prep yourself for the weekend, you’ve got to prep yourself all week for what you’re going to be doing at the weekend."

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